5AM Thursday morning, I opened my eyes and realized I couldn’t actually open them. My left eyelid felt heavy, like I’d been punched in the face, and, seeing my reflection through my phone’s front camera, I looked it, too. My left eye had swollen almost entirely shut and I had no idea why.
The skin on my face seemed to sizzle. Allergic reaction, probably. I racked my brain. I have chronic dry skin—Mom says it’s slight eczema—which sometimes flakes white and burns mildly when I wash it, so I’d tried to put on some lotion (Clinique’s Dramatically Different moisturizing lotion for “very dry to dry combination” skin, “tested for allergies.”) But that had been two days ago.
I booked a same-day appointment online through University Health Services and forewent wearing contacts for the day, instead donning glasses outside for the first time. I expected someone to bring up that I looked like I’d been stung by a bee, but no one did. Then I could tell them that, no, I wasn’t winking suggestively at them. I was in pain. But, nothing.
It’s like people thought my face was normally that puffy. Or, possibly, that people couldn’t get a word out before I mentioned it without them asking.
Me: SO, I woke up this morning with a SWOLLEN EYE…
Hey, interesting news about me is hard to come by.
Once the UHS doctor, a kind-looking old man, walked into the waiting room, he complimented me on the burnt orange sweater I’d dug out of Mom’s closet and for that reason I immediately felt I could trust him. I rattled off all my theories and unsolicited self-diagnoses—yes, I was that patient—and showed him the ingredients list of the possible culprit.
Politely indulging, he shone a light under each of my eyelids.
Doctor: Ah, blepharitis.
Me: Bless you.
Blepharitis is inflammation of the eyelids. I asked if something in the lotion had triggered it and he said he couldn’t say.
Me: I really thought it was eczema. Or allergies.
Doctor: Oh, yes, you have those, too. But now you have blepharitis.
It wasn’t anything too serious. Blepharitis is a common enough condition and wouldn’t affect my vision. I’d need to use some eye ointment twice a day for the next weeks to settle the inflammation. After that, it might flare back up—I could have it from up to a couple years or the rest of my life.
Yeah, what a range, but again, not that worrisome. Mainly I just found it funny how you can, out of the blue one day, so easily veer off in some unforeseen, absurd direction. I spent the day trying to put out the fire on my face when I just as well could’ve spent it putting off work by cleaning. Or deep-diving YouTube documentaries on deep sea angler fish. Or being productive.
Padding my inflamed cheeks with warm water before bed that night, I acknowledged, okay, probably not that last one.
Friend, via text: wtf is blepharitis
Me: somehow, sounds exactly how I feel like
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